On February 23 the church remembers St. Polycarp.
He was a disciple of John, he was the bishop of Smyrna (in today's Turkey), and he was martyred in the year 155 or 156.
We have a letter he wrote to the Christians in Philippi, and we have an authentic first-hand account of his death. The latter is only thirteen pages long and should be required Christian reading. Read it devotionally and it will strengthen you. For me the lessons learned are: Be brave, be loving, and be faithful - all things we need today, and all things God will work in us!
But the standout thing for me is the meaning of the name Polycarp. It is Greek and means "much fruit" or "fruitful." Very interestingly (remember that John was Polycarp's teacher) the name Polycarp may be found in the Gospel of John. John 12:24 reads, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit."
The witness of Polycarp has encouraged countless Christians, and all these years later he is still bearing fruit. God is living him up to his name - Fruitful!
For Polycarp we praise You,
Who did not fear the flame
But filled with joy and courage
Confessed Your holy name.
Lord, give Your Holy Spirit
To our timidity
That filled with joy and courage
We too may fruitful be!